Exploring Tourism in Jordan
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Amman, Jordan

Amman, the modern and ancient capital of Jordan, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the World. The city's modern buildings blend with the remnants of ancient civilizations. The profusion of gleaming white houses, kebab stalls with roasting meat, and tiny cafes where rich Arabian coffee is sipped in the afternoon sunshine, conjure a mood straight from a thousand and one nights.


Recent excavations have uncovered homes and towers believed to have been built during the Stone Age with many references to it in the Bible.

Amman was known in the Old Testament as Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of the Ammonites around 1200 BC, it was also referred to as "the City of Waters".

In Greco-Roman times in the 3rd century BC, the City was renamed Philadelphia (Greek for "The Brotherhood Love") after the Ptolemaic ruler Philadelphus (283-246 BC). The City later came under Seleucid as well as Nabataean rule until the Roman General Pompey annexed Syria and made Philadelphia part of the Decapolis League - a loose alliance of ten free city-states, bound by powerful commercial, political, and cultural interests under overall allegiance to Rome.

Under the influence of the Roman culture, Philadelphia was reconstructed in typically grand Roman style with colonnaded streets, baths, an Amphitheater, and impressive public buildings.


During the Byzantine period, Philadelphia was the seat of a Christian Bishop, and therefore several churches were built. The city declined somewhat until the year 635 AD. As Islam spread northwards from the Arabian Peninsula, the land became part of its domain. Its original Semitic name Ammon or Amman was returned to it.

Amman's modern history began in the late 19th Century, when the Ottomans resettled a colony of Circassian emigrants in 1878. As the Great Arab Revolt progressed and the State of Transjordan was established, Emir Abdullah ibn Al-Hussein founder of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan made Amman his capital in 1921. Since then, Amman has grown rapidly into a modern, thriving metropolis of well over two million people.

Getting Around in Amman

Amman is a relatively small city, and getting around is easy. Hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are well known and could be reached easily by either taxis, which are metered and inexpensive, or by private transportation.

Amman was originally built on seven hills, called Jabals (the Arabic word for mountain), each of which more or less defines a neighborhood and gives it its name, like Jabal Amman and Jabal Al-Hussein.


Many Jabals once had a circle (roundabouts), and although most of these circles are now replaced by traffic lights, bridges and/or tunnels the junctions are still known as 1st circle, 2nd circle... 8th circle.

One thing to keep in mind always, if you have trouble finding your way, do not hesitate to ask a passer-by for help. Jordanians are very friendly, and most people will be delighted to help.

Exploring Amman

Start your journey of discovery at the ancient Citadel, towering above the city, where Amman began, at least 5000 years ago. Pause for a moment to study the traces of Amman's many lives: the regal columns of the Roman Temple of Hercules in silhouette against the sky, the elegant capitals of the Byzantine church, and the endlessly inventive carvings in the Umayyad Palace.

Take a seat in the Roman Amphitheater, a deep-sided bowl carved into the hill and still used for cultural events, as is the Odeon, an intimate small theater now beautifully restored.

Admire traditional costumes & crafts in Amman's well-presented museums - marvelous embroidery, and antique jewelry of gold, silver, amber and coral - and get a fascinating glimpse of Bedouin life. Move on to the works of modern Jordanian artists in one of several galleries - Jordan has a lively arts scene, with new events occurring almost daily.

Allow Amman to tempt you with coffee, Arabic-style - strong, sweet and slightly scented - and delicious pastries in a typical downtown coffee house. Watch the locals playing backgammon and cards, reading the newspaper, or just gossiping. And why not try an Argeelah, the traditional Hubble-Bubble water pipe, as an accompaniment?

Amman is a safe and friendly city to walk around, and a stroll is the best way to discover its hidden treasures - lovely turn-of-the-century villas in Rainbow Street, glamorous modern residences in Abdoun, hidden gardens, Amman's unassuming parks, and gaily decorated shop-fronts where colorful tiles and curving Arabic script compete with elaborate window-dressing for your attention.






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